Reasons to practice yoga

When people ask me why I do yoga, the answer is never a simple one word.  It’s not about flexibility, which is what brings most people into a yoga studio for the first time (including me).  It’s so much more than that.  It’s the mental clarity and strength that I receive from practicing yoga that always keeps me coming back to my mat.

Yoga teaches you to quiet your mind, to listen to your thoughts (and not judge them), to accept your feelings as they truly are, to truly be you.  And this is not something easily done in today’s society.  We see images of who we “should” be all over the place – television, movies, magazines, social media.  Picture perfect people in picture perfect settings.  That’s not life.  Life is messy and raw.  Life is full of ups and downs that constantly challenge you.  Life is far from picture perfect.  But we feel as though it should be – and we are failing if it is not.

Yoga teaches you that you are not a failure at any time and that what and where you are in that present moment is exactly where you should be.  You do not need to change a thought or feeling.  You do not need to be able to touch your toes, have enough strength to perform an arm balance, or lose 10 pounds.  You are exactly where you should be.

The journey to accept that fact is an ongoing process.  As humans, we always strive for more.  And having a goal to work towards is not a bad thing, as long as you are ok with the present moment status.  You do not have to meet that goal today, tomorrow, or even this year.  The goal will be met when the time is right and when you are ready.

That’s what yoga teaches me.  That while I wish I were more flexible or stronger in my practice, I am exactly where I should be at this time.  That it’s not only acceptable, but beautiful, that my practice and my being are not perfect.

It’s easy to forget this.  It’s easy to get caught up with life and away from the mat for a while.  And then the “shoulds” come back.  I “should” practice more.  I “should” be able to go deeper into a pose than I am.  I “should” not have taken so much time off.  Then I step back on the mat, and after class the “should”’s go away.  It’s like magic.  Every time I go to a yoga class, I learn something new.  I find a new level of clarity.  The learning never ends in yoga, and where ever you are in your yoga journey is always the perfect place to be!

 

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A Balance Exercise to easily fit into your daily routine

I’m learning a lot from my chiropractor.  Not only does he tell corny “Dad” jokes that I haven’t heard in a while, but he also teaches me new things.  The best thing I’ve learned from him so far is the easiest balance exercise to fit into a daily routine.

You ready for it?

Stand on one leg while brushing your teeth!

Keep your knee bent (never lock out legs) and your hands off the counter as much as possible.  It’s pretty crazy – when you switch from your left teeth to your right (or vice versa), it really is an extra balance challenge!  Plus you already brush your teeth twice a day (I hope) so you are not adding anything extra into your routine – but gaining lots of benefits.

Balance exercises help you:

  • become more body aware (you know where your body/limbs are in space), so you decrease the chance for falls and injuries
  • improve coordination by causing muscles and muscles groups to work together to balance.
  • improve the stability of your joints – especially your ankles, knees and hips!
  • improve your reaction time – when your balance is tested, your body has to learn to react fast to upright yourself.

If you are new to balance exercises, start out slow and use a progression:

  1. Hold on to a wall or steady piece of furniture with both hands.
  2. Hold on with one hand.
  3. Use only a few to one finger to hold.
  4. Lift both hands slightly away from the wall or furniture so they can grab on as needed.
  5. Move to trying it while brushing your teeth.  You may need to hold on with one hand or a few fingers, and that’s ok.  Work your way up!  You are improving your balance and doing a great job!!

I’ve been doing this daily for a week now and have really noticed a difference in how quickly my muscles fire and react when my balance is tested.

5 Tips for Surviving Injury Boredom

When you are an athlete or an avid exerciser, an injury is devastating.  Not only do you worry about losing strength, endurance and skill, but your whole schedule and routine is thrown for a loop.  What are you going to do now?

I injured my hip flexor a few weeks ago.  At first I thought it had just cramped up on me and I needed to work through it – so I did, without any issues, for 3 days.  Then day 4 came, and I don’t know if it was the speed skaters, the jump squats or the sprints that did me in, but boy oh boy did that create a very real hip injury.  It hurt to walk the next day.  So I quickly called the sports medicine clinic and made an appointment.  I was hoping a few treatments and I’d be good.  Here I am entering week 3 and I’m still not back to my normal routine.

So yes, I worry about all the progress I’ve made and now lost.  I worry about starting again at the gym.  I worry about being out of shape.

And I’m not really sure what to do with the extra time I have.  Most people would love having extra time – and me included, but not when it comes at the expensive of my workout.

So I go to the sports clinic twice a week for treatments.  And on days I don’t go there – I go to the gym and do upper body only machines – no I’m not allowed to do anything but that.  I try to challenge myself with heavy weights, or lots of repetitions with lighter weights, but it’s definitely not the same as my Burn Boot Camp workouts that I truly love.   I also do my obligatory 5 minutes of hip stretching every morning and night.  Yawn.  I’m bored.

So here’s a few things I’ve come up with to help me beat my injury-recovery boredom:

  1. Cook ahead of time.  I usually spend my weekends making waffles, pancakes, muffins, veggie nuggets, etc. for my son.  I bake and freeze whatever is needed.  So instead of going to the gym while the young one is learning and playing away at preschool, I go ahead and bake/freeze.
  2. Take care of myself in different ways.  For me, I love to read.  I usually have about 30 minutes at night that I can read – and I make the most of that time.  So I’ve been reading a lot more during the day.  It’s fantastic!
  3. Clean out.  I hate the amount of junk that’s in my house now.  I’m pretty sure it’s quadrupled since I’ve had my son.  So I’ve been cleaning out stuff.  Some for donation, some for selling, some are just trash.  But it feels good to have empty drawers and shelves in the house again (that I’m sure will be promptly filled up next week when my son turns 2).
  4. Run errands without a child.  It’s rare that I get a trip to the grocery store or Target without a toddler.  And it’s glorious to be able to take my time, browse a little, read a few nutrition labels, without a kid squirming and making his “I’m frustrated” noise.
  5. Keep your goals in mind – but look at them from a different perspective.  I love to workout – the exercise part of health has always come easy for me.  But the nutrition – well, I also love chocolate and burgers, so that’s the harder part.  And while I have in no way revamped my diet during these 2 weeks, I have noticed changes that need to be made and am working to improve upon them.  I’m eating more protein sources for snacks instead of crackers.  I’m cutting back on the amount of caffeine I’m consuming and drinking more water.  I’m making egg white sandwiches and oatmeal more of a breakfast routine than eating some of the waffles I prepared for my son.  (I have yet to kick the pb&j for lunch habit though.   I’m all about that lately.)

The important thing to do when recovering from an injury is to focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t.  Have a lower body injury?  Focus on gaining strength in your upper body.  It’s all in the way you view things!

Core Exercise Routine

Last week I tweaked a hip flexor/adductor.  I’m not really sure which one, but it was pretty tight on me last week.  Luckily I could stretch it out a bit and all was fine.  Until Friday – oh Friday.  Athletic Conditioning day really made that tendon angry.  So now I’m a bit hobbled and oh so missing my workouts.

While I can go to 2 workouts this week that are upper body – the rest involve too much hip action so I’m at home trying to figure out my own hip-friendly routine.  Luckily a lot of core work is fairly hip friendly and I’m able to do a good bit of it at home.  And since I love working abs – that makes some of the frustration of not being able to go to the gym every day less.

Here’s an at home Ab Workout I did this week.  There are a few links below for some of the exercises in case you are not familiar with my vernacular.

ab exercises

Hope you have fun!

I’m off to the chiropractor to figure out what is causing my hip pain.  Fingers crossed for me!!

Supermans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cc6UVRS7PW4
Side Plank Dips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgaYt4Hi6-g
Side Crunches: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVfzmxQYTdA
Forearm plank toe taps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtgjQYcL1NI

 

A Week of Croup

Well, just when I thought that Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease was the worst it could get in toddler illness, my son developed croup.

Croup, which is inflammation of the trachea, is caused by a group of viruses that mascarade as the common cold, but in young children can turn into much more.

You know your child has croup when his or her cough starts sounding like a weird bark.  You may also hear a gasping noise when they cry, talk, exert themselves and in really bad cases at rest.  My son had a fever of around 101 and was fatigued, clingy and had a poor appetite.

My son’s croup started on a Wednesday.  His cough had the trademark bark noise and I knew right away he had croup.  What I didn’t know was what to do.  Do I need to get him to a doctor right away?  Is this something to care for at home?  I just had no idea – and when it comes to your kid breathing, you don’t want to be guessing.

So I called the doctor’s office and talked to a nurse.  She assured me unless he was clearly having difficulty breathing, he was ok and set up an appointment for the next morning.

That night was rough.  He couldn’t sleep – he was wheezing, barking and generally miserable.  Myself or my husband was in the room with him at all times – one because he needed us there for comfort – and two because we needed to hear him breathing in case he started struggling.

The next morning his doctor took one listen to him and immediately said he needed steroids.  He got the one dose steroid treatment and by that afternoon was feeling much better.

But this croup virus was not nice.  It came back over the weekend, sending us to urgent care and getting him on a dose of 3 days of steroids.

Now he’s on day 2 of being off of medicine and feeling just fine.  I’m finally convinced he can go back to school.  I’m terrified of what illness he will bring home next, but its clear that he needs that outlet and needs to have fun.

Oh, and if you thought croup was just a childhood disease, think again.  I’m on day 4 and just now starting to get my voice back.  While I never developed a barking noise, my throat definitely has been very swollen and I’ve felt worse than I have in a long time.  Whenever I get these illnesses several days after my son does, I always am shocked that he did so freakin’ well considering how crappy I feel.  If I was 1, I would not handle feeling that bad as well as he does.  My little man is a trooper!

The google spiral

I have to say, anxiety and google do not mix.

I’ve always had a bit of anxiety.  When I was a kid, it was more of a social anxiety.  As I’ve aged, I’ve learned techniques to deal with social anxiety.  But as I learn to deal with one type of anxiety, another one rears it’s ugly head.  After social anxiety came choosing a career path anxiety, after that came living on my own anxiety, etc. etc. so and so on.

Lately, as I’m settled in my job and my personal life, a new anxiety has popped up.  Anxiety of strange medical conditions.

Let me preface this by saying I am the person who has weird things happen to them – whether personally or medically.

Just as an example, I have a rare food allergy – it’s a dietary nickel allergy.  Yes, I am very allergic to the metal nickel and can not wear jewelry, watches, etc with nickel in it.  And that has turned into a food allergy.  Nickel is a natural compound found in the soil, and so it is absorbed by food that grows in the soil.  Those foods with a naturally high nickel content cause me to have an allergic reaction.  It’s crazy – it’s rare – and I have it.

So when you have a kid, your anxiety naturally raises for the health and wellbeing of your child.  Add that on to an already anxiety-prone personality, and things can get a little out of control.

I’ve been spending a ton of time googling things that I’m worried about with my son.  I won’t go into specifics, because it’s just a worry of mine.  No medical professional has said anything about it – and when I talk to others they don’t agree with me.  So most likely (and hopefully) it’s just my anxious mind.

The other day, I was “multi-tasking” as many people do.  I was cooking some food for my son for the week – which is a lot of boiling frozen veggies – while googling away on the topic of my concern.  While in the throws of my vicious google circle – a plastic slotted spoon had fallen into the flame on my gas stove.  And I was so caught up in my obsession that I didn’t notice until most of the spoon had melted away on the stove, the pot, the pot lid, etc.

I had a mini-breakdown as I was taking all the melted plastic covered kitchen supplies outside to get the fumes/smell out of my home.  I called my husband and lost it.  Not my finest moment at all.

So since then I’ve sworn off google for this topic.  Because really – is google going to help me solve this problem (if it is one)?  Is google going to prevent this from being a problem (if it is?)  No.  Is google going to make me miss out on some precious moments with my son?  Is google going to make my life more chaotic than it needs to be?  Yes.

So from now on, Google is off limits for topics that can send me into a worry-spiral.  It is to be used for research for work, shopping, email and fun items only!

 

Changes and Dreams

I used to pride myself on being able to handle change well – even craving change.  But these past several months have challenged that thought.

I have had a lot of change.  Like, if you ever take one of those life stressor polls, I’d rate pretty darn high.  I actually just took a quiz (the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory) and scored well above the high rating and they predict I have an 80% chance of having a major health incidence in the next 2 years.  So…um…

Every little change is now effecting me in a negative way.  For instance, our neighbors moved.  We weren’t close.  I knew their names and would wave if we saw each other – but that’s about it.  But now at night, when I’m washing the baby bottles, I look out our kitchen window and don’t see the familiar view of our neighbor sitting on her couch working on her laptop.  And it makes me sad.  I feel out of control.  And I hate that.

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In order to make myself feel more in control over all these out of my hands changes, I tend to dream about my life in the future.  I don’t dream too far in advance, maybe 6 months to 2 years.  And I’m not unrealistic.  I don’t envision myself winning the lottery or moving to France.  I envision real-life possibilities.  And it helps.  It gives me a sense of calm and control, even if the control is just an illusion.

But I don’t tell anyone my future life visions.  I think it’s because I’ve had goals I’ve shared in the past, and didn’t make them, and felt horrible about myself.  It was embarrassing.  So I stopped voicing my dreams.  Which is sad.  I kind of need to voice these, right?  I mean, how can I make my life more of what I want, and make sure my husband and I are both seeing the same, or close to same, things – unless I share these.

It’s hard to find time to talk seriously with him now.  In depth conversations are a thing of the past.  We now talk about poopy diapers, what we can scrounge out of the fridge for dinner, and our deep desire for more sleep.  Nothing serious.  But that’s my goal for the weekend.  To voice my dreams.  I may have to give a dream disclaimer.  Something along the lines of “is this doesn’t happen, it’s OK.”  Give myself a little out in case I change my mind, lose my way, etc.  Maybe that will make the conversation a little easier.

Once I share them with him, I’ll share them with you.  So stay tuned…

What day is it?

I’m having difficulty remembering what day it is.  Days tend to all blur together – one bleeding into the next.  We actually still have a notebook we keep logging our son’s diaper changes, feedings, naps, etc.  Otherwise we won’t remember.  Parenthood definitely takes away some of your brain power.

So it’s already Wednesday.  Wow.

I am happy to report I did good on my workout goal for last week.  I did every workout except for Sunday’s yoga DVD.  It’s probably the one I need to most, but the one I feel least guilty about skipping.  Odd, right?  But there were days I had to force myself to do my 15 minute exercise  – and I did it.  So yay!  Small victory dance.

snoopy_dance_4844

My goal this week is 30 minutes.  Yesterday that didn’t happen.  Yesterday was chaotic.  My sitter didn’t show up and I had an early morning meeting with my boss – so my husband had to stay with the baby.  And from then on, craziness ensued.  You know how when your day starts off crazy, it just stays crazy.  Unexpected trip to the pediatricians office, ridiculously long lines at the grocery store for 11am on a Tuesday, all that happened.  So no, I didn’t workout then.  But I did my 30 minutes on Monday and today, so I’m just picking up where I left off.  No guilt.  Things happen.  No quitting – that’s the more important thing!

stubble

On a totally unrelated note, while I’m happy I’ve started this exercise regime, I still can’t help looking towards next year for me to finally have some happiness.  I don’t know why – I’ve never been a New Year’s person.  January 1 is just the same as December 31st in my book.  But for some reason I feel like all the hurt and stress I have buried deep down in me will disappear with the changing of the year.  It doesn’t work that way, I know.  I just don’t have the time or the means to release it, and it will stay with me until I do.  That’s a scary thought.  But I just have to keep powering on.  When the feelings overcome me, I let them.  I don’t judge myself.  You can’t wish away sadness anymore than you can wish for more money.  So I just feel it.  And hope that one day I won’t be so sad anymore.

moving-on-quotes-and-sayings-for-girls-2

But that’s my update.  Nothing overwhelming.  Just thought I’d throw this out there.

A little progress is better than nothing

I just had to pat myself on the back a little bit.  Three days of doing some working out while my little one napped (or was suppose to be napping).

I have to give you a bit of background information.

This used to be me:img_0497

After a rough pregnancy (all day sickness started at 6 weeks – ended 2 days after I gave birth) and a bad recovery (unplanned C-section, reflux baby requiring round the clock care, etc.), working out has not been in my schedule for over a year now.

Before pregnancy, as I went out to run 3-4 miles before a good 30-45 minute strength training session, I used to look at people who were walking and be jealous.  Part of me hated pushing myself so hard to get a good workout.  Now, by the end of my 30 minute walk, I’m sweating.  I’m that person I used to be jealous of – and I’m completely jealous of the old me.  Grass is always greener, right?

So part of me is a bit down on my current workout.

I’m doing the 21 Day Fix DVDs (no, I’m not a Beachbody rep – but I do enjoy their products).  And I’m not even doing all the DVD – I’m only doing one round of each exercise.  So my workouts are more like 15 minutes.  And yep, I get a little winded, sweaty, and I definitely feel them the next day (even though I’m using little to no weight).  Compared to where I was, I feel like a slug doing such a little workout.

But I have to quit comparing myself to, well, myself.  My body has been through a lot – and made a beautiful, healthy and amazing little boy.  So yeah, it’s going to be a little beat up.  And that’s ok.  Because it will get better.  And I may never be where I was when that picture was taken, and that’s honestly 100% ok with me.  My goal, to be perfectly open, is just to fit into some of my pre-pregnancy clothes.  Not all – but at least a few.

3 days down – 18 more to go, then a habit forms, right?

New Year, New Me?

I usually thrive in January.  Goal setting, resolutions, making plans — it’s kind of my thing.  I love it and a lot of times I actually live for it.  Setting goals and trying to accomplish them – it’s a way of life for me.

This January feels very different though.  I haven’t set any goals or resolutions.  I can’t even wrap my mind around making goals or resolutions.

The reason: I am (happily) 6 months pregnant – just a little over a week away from being 7 months pregnant.

So goals have taken on a new meaning for me.  My goal is to make it through the day without being emotionally, mentally or physically overwhelmed.  And that’s really all I can focus on these days.

I am not one of those women who feels great while pregnant.  Since pretty much week 6, I’ve felt crappy the majority of the time.  And while symptoms have lessoned as I get closer to the 3rd trimester, I still fight to get through the day in one piece.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  My body doesn’t handle change very well.  So of course this huge change in my body is creating a bit of havoc.  But it’s worth it.  And really, I am happy to be creating this beautiful life inside me.

But I also feel a little lost at times.  My life has turned into work and trying to survive pregnancy.  I don’t feel like I’ve had a lot of time to really be me.  I do try to exercise 3-4 times a week (depending on how I’m feeling), but it’s been mainly to maintain health, not to challenge myself or grow in strength or endurance.  I don’t cook anymore other than making a less than 10 minute dish because being on my feet wears me  out.  I haven’t written in ages because I feel like all that will come out is complaints about pregnancy.  So a big part of me I feel is gone, which scares me because I know even more of me can and may disappear once this little baby makes an appearance.

So how do you find you in pregnancy?  After almost 7 months, I’m still having trouble figuring that out.  But since it’s January, I have a little more motivation to set out on how to do that.  My life doesn’t have to be going to work, coming home to rest and feel icky, and planning a nursery.  It can have time for me in it before and after baby comes.  I logically know this.  But when you feel blah, it’s hard to get yourself motivated to make the change.  Especially when you have an awesome and loving family who tries to do everything for you because they know you feel yucky.  But it’s time to kick my butt into gear.  Step 1: get off the couch more.  Step 2: get out of the house more.  I have plans to attend a prenatal yoga class.  I love yoga but have not taken a class since I become pregnant due to many reasons.  But I think going to a class filled with other women who are pregnant as well will help me feel better, feel motivated, and get my butt into gear.  So step 3, go out and find some yoga pants that fit me right now 🙂  And then step 4, attend class.  So tomorrow, Maternity store – here I come!

Isn’t it funny how goals and resolutions can change over time?  This time last year I was thinking of running half marathons, doing handstands and pull-ups, and this year it’s finding yoga pants and just going to a class.  But I’m not going to compare these goals.  Both are great, admirable and needed goals for me during the specific time in my life.  I need to embrace my body, embrace my feelings, and live my life.  Because that’s step number 1 to being a healthy, happy me!